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Magic Number = 14

In case you missed it, here is the awesome, bizarre ending to last night's huge win.

Since the playoff picture began to take shape along about July, my one playoff wish has been that the Rangers wind up with any first round matchup other than Game One in the Bronx. It's been 11 years since the last try, but I would selfishly prefer to experience something else in terms of playoff baseball, even if my team can't win a series. 

Whether or not my preference is correct, these two wins have done three significant things.

1. There is still a division to be won, and while a poor stretch last week was mostly mirrored by a poor stretch by the A's, Oakland is now on a winning streak themselves. No one wants this to get tight late, and these two thrilling comeback wins have kept the lead at a seemingly out of reach 7.5, rather than just five in the loss column, with a four gamer in Oakland still looming. 

2. The most obvious and most cited factor over the past day or so: these Rangers have shown themselves that they can stand toe-to-toe with the Yankees - even without their best player - and deliver the knockout. As Evan Grant tweeted last night, the Yankees are now 76-1 when leading after eight this season. Remarkable.

3. While the Rangers have been at this, the Rays have been pummeling Toronto. If Texas can win a seemingly favorable Cliff Lee-Dustin Moseley matchup, Tampa can take the division lead today. We all wanted home field in the first round, but that possibility disappeared with the sweep in Minnesota. The only drama remaining in the AL seems to be determining which AL East monster will host the Rangers and which will head to Minneapolis. Give me the Trop.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.